AN INSPIRATIONAL 12-year-old enjoyed the holiday of her dreams thanks to a charity that helps youngsters with life-limiting conditions.
Melanie Cooper, who has cystic fibrosis, never thought that she would get to visit world-famous parks like Seaworld or Discovery Cove.
But she was chosen to go on a holiday of a lifetime by charity Dreamflight, which takes children with illnesses or disabilities to Orlando in Florida.
Melanie, who attends Brune Park Community School, suffers from the respiratory condition that affects her lungs and pancreas. The life expectancy for those with CF is about 40. But her condition does not hold her back.
Mum Deborah Campbell said: ‘Melanie always said that she wanted to go on a holiday like she went on, but understood that we would never be able to go with her condition due to the insurance.
‘When she found out, she was really excited. It did not sink in for her for some time until she went to a pre-holiday meeting at Paultons Park and started speaking to all of the people going on the trip.’
She does not let her condition get in her way.Deborah Cooper
In America, Melanie, from Gosport, not only got the opportunity to swim with dolphins at Discovery Cove, as well as visit Disneyland other theme parks, but also made friends for life.
On her time in America, Melanie said: ‘I went on water slides, and did things for the first time – I’m so pleased I did it.
‘I have cystic fibrosis which sometimes stops me from spending time with my friends and I have to take medicine a lot.
‘I have been able to do so many things so I’m really grateful.’
Deborah added: ‘Since Melanie got back, she has been glued to her phone like most teenagers are.
‘When you can’t provide something for your children, it’s a kick in the teeth but she was given a holiday of a lifetime.
‘We were delighted that Dreamflight gave her the opportunity and looking forward to viewing all of the photos as a family.’
Deborah said she and the family are looking at doing half-marathons together to give something back to Dreamflight.
‘Melanie doesn’t ever let her condition hold her back,’ she said.
‘Melanie does as much as she possibly can. It is very rare that she says “I can’t do something” and has a go at everything. Even things like running, she still gives things a go, which is what I admire the most about her.’
Dreamflight celebrated its 30th anniversary this year and the first group was waved off by Princess Diana.
Founder Pat Pearce said: ‘It was supposed to be a one-off trip, but people said “you’ve got to do it again”.
‘When I started it I thought it was just a holiday of a lifetime, I didn’t realise how far-reaching the charity is.’